Potential Topic: Financial Inclusion; Access to Financial Services
For my final paper, I would like to write about the pervasive issue of financial inclusion within the EU. Working at Social Platform, a platform of dozens of NGO's that are mainly service providers, I have now done quite a bit of research into this growing issue. A number of these NGO's focus specifically on ensuring access to basic financial services to underprivileged groups in order to combat the growing issue of financial exclusion. Presently, 30 million Europeans do not have access to a basic bank account (about 10 percent of Europe). Half of that number want access but are unable to obtain it due to constraints such as disability, complex banking protocols, and regional access issues. This problem has been of increasing importance in recent years, as physical cash transactions decline and increasingly a basic bank account becomes essential to obtaining a mortgage or loan, deposit work payments, make payments online, and to pay basic bills.
Recently, the EU passed legislation that seeks to ensure that every member state guarantees that at least one banking company within its borders will provide a free basic bank account. However, the legislation is currently under criticism by some groups (many within Social Platform) for lacking 'teeth' and for failing to apply the right to a bank account to individual citizens (not every citizen has real access to the provided account if, for example, they live in a location far away from a branch of the designated bank providing the free basic account), among other problems.
Specifically, I would like to do a prescriptive policy analysis paper that examines the issues, goals, and policy options, etc. behind universal access to basic financial services, such as a bank account, within the EU. I think this would be a good opportunity to talk about an important issue that rests, in part, on the level of authority given to the EU over member states to pass this kind of legislation.